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  • As far as you can see, the land stretches, uninterrupted by buildings. There's little evidence of humanity in general here, except for the occasional power line. And the signs.

    The signs remind you that it would be unwise to park the car and ramble in these fields, admiring the hills on the horizon. You might wander through something treacherous-- but invisible. Something that requires each man and woman working out here to wear a badge with a dosimeter, a personal geiger counter. Something that gives the pastoral beauty of this place an ominous undertone.

    The irony is:
    This place is beautiful because 70 years ago it was chosen as the site to produce one of the most toxic substances the world has known. A ring of hundreds of square miles of desert became an unintentional nature preserve, a buffer to what began as a secret, and what relatively few people have laid eyes on since. This stretch of grass and sagebrush housed a feat of human engineering, an extraordinary success story that also precipitated fantastic destruction, halfway around the world.

    In the 1940s, they made plutonium here.
    In the 1940s, that plutonium was made into a bomb.
    It will take hundreds of years for this place to lose the chemical imprint of it all.
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